Where to buy a new Mac

I was wondering where the best deals would be for a new Mac would be? I want to start looking over the next few months for either an iMac like the one I use here, a Mac mini or an eMac. Any suggestions?

I just want to kick this one off, and ask for anyone reading to post their own thoughts on the matter. I’m going to ramble a bit now, but if you want to know how to buy a new Mac, I intend this to be a good place to start.

Which Mac Should I Buy?

Just poking around, I found this great Buyer’s Guide, which will give you some idea (not gospel, just suggestion) about whether it’s a good time to buy the particular model of Mac you have your eye on.

N.B.: I’ve said this before, but RAM, RAM, RAM! Don’t buy a new Mac with less than 2Gb RAM. You certainly don’t have to buy the RAM direct from Apple. I have all of my clients go to Crucial for much cheaper, and lifetime-warrantied, memory. Crucial actually makes the RAM that Apple puts in its computers, but they sell it for a lot less.

So, the eMac is dead, long live the educational-level iMac. But it’s severely crippled — it lacks Bluetooth and other stuff, so let’s skip past that one.

The Mac mini is a fantastic product, for certain applications. I use mine as a media server and to back up my home computers. They are also great for office administration and clerical work, kids, and some basic document production. Don’t consider them an option for more heavy-duty graphics or multimedia work. Factor in price of keyboard, mouse, and monitor if you don’t already have ’em.

The iMac or MacBook are right in the pocket for a household, and I know many graphic designers and photographers who have landed on the iMac as their main production machine.

If you will use your Mac for any pro-level production, or you like a big screen, or you’re a gamer or other sort of speed freak (wait, that’s maybe not the best choice of phrase 😉 or you purely want bragging rights, you should think about a Mac Pro or MacBook Pro.

Where Should I Buy It?

It’s very clear that, unless you’re a bit of a geek and want to mess around with an older machine, you should buy your Mac new. That includes Apple-refurbished units. You can buy used Macs at from SmallDog or PowerMax, or even eBay, but Macs hold a pretty good resale value through at least the first 3 years, so you simply won’t save all that much buying used.

Rejoice in refurb: Go to http://store.apple.com and look in the right column for “Looking for a great deal?” next to the “SAVE” sticker. On the ensuing pages, you’ll find refurbished Macs, and as long as you buy AppleCare with them (which you must do anyway), any of those are great.

Before you make a purchase, please allow me to put you in touch with my friends at the Apple Store at La Cantera. Also, Apple has finally set up a small-business sales department, which seems to be doing some pretty aggressive outreach. I have a contact on that team as well, but I’ve been really grateful to the folks at La Cantera for the service they’ve given every one of my customers.

By the way, if you haven’t been out to that store, it’s really worth it. They’ve established themselves on the forefront of the Apple Retail division.

Lastly, if someone in your household currently haunts the halls of academia, the best discounts on Macs are for educators and students. Go to the Education version of the Apple Store

That’s all on this for now. I’m anxious to hear some other opinions.

Author: jjmarcus

Apple Specialist, Mac Whisperer, Cloud Wrangler - Your Remote CTO

One thought on “Where to buy a new Mac”

  1. I’ve been purchasing my Macs (going on five models now?) online. This year I decided to take Mr. Marcus’ suggestion and contact the good folks at the Apple Store/La Cantera.

    Best decision I ever made.

    The small business sales department listened to what I wanted and offered great suggestions. Yes, I paid Texas sales tax, but I didn’t have to pay for FedEx, PLUS they opened the box for me and let me inspect it. After my purchase, they even took it to the back door. I pulled up and they loaded it in to my truck. No waiting, no worrying about it being left at my front door by overnight delivery or that it would be damaged in transit. Plus there’s no better feeling than to walk out of the store with a new Mac.

    Two days after I booted it up – I had kernal panics on the new iMac. I called the store and they asked me when I could come in. I was impressed with the Apple Store’s customer service. I’ve previously had an iBook arrive DOA from and online merchant and it was such a hassle to get it returned/replaced. Yeah, I could have saved “some money” or gotten a new inkjet printer that I don’t need – but being able to call the store, come in and get taken care of is priceless.

    I did buy the RAM online and it was a breeze to install.

    Buying my new iMac at the Apple Store gave me piece of mind.

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